Memories and Faith

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Yesterday was a beautiful day, bright blue skies, a house filled with family and friends. We chatted, ate our burgers, enjoyed our apple pie (!), and then a conversation just happened…

My daughter, Maribel, her husband, her birth Mom (Margarita), and I were sitting on my deck and we slipped back in time more than 3 decades to those wonderful ‘coincidences’ *(better read as ‘miracles’) that brought Maribel to our home and into our hearts. We all supplied pieces of the events from our own memories. We laughed and a tear or two slipped down my check as I remembered leaving NJ on a January Monday morning on a fool’s errand to rescue Maribel from a man who mistreated her mother, victimizing her by stealing her daughter.

An amazing series of events led Margarita and I from Miami to Sarasota, to a little mobile home tucked away on a farm, where we found Maribel. Her Mom remembered the awful choice of love that caused her to put her little 4 year-old on a plane back to NJ with me, to become a beloved part of my family.  Maribel remembered how frightened she was … and all of us gave thanks for the God whose grace brought us all together and for the memories.

I looked over at her, sitting on her husband’s lap, a beautiful Christian woman, a loving wife and mother, whose has a vision to empower other women – and I saw another miracle; a person who overcame so many things that could have destroyed her. She did it with courage, with faith, with support and encouragement, and with persistence. Faith was renewed in my heart to hope again that in all the ugliness that life can be at times, there is a God who leads and guides, if only we will trust Him.

I don’t want to leave you the impression that any of that story was easy, or that it didn’t have plenty of tears and mistakes along the way.  Somehow we think miracles ought to make things smooth. Truth is miracles are usually found in the darkest, saddest, or most impossible situations. Lazarus could not have been raised from the dead unless he died, and that made even Jesus weep!  5000 people could not enjoy a miracle lunch unless a boy gave away his food first, and that was hard to do for a kid a long way from the nearest place to buy more.

We need to raise monuments of memories. We don’t worship those things, nor do we pine for a return to that time. We remember, we learn, we see the faithfulness of God.  Faith grows!  When Israel was finally entering the Promised Land, Joshua called for a monument to be built. “So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the LORD your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.” (Joshua 4:4-7, NIV)

Is your life a mess? Is the pain so great you just want to run, to quit, to do something stupid that might make you feel good, if only for a few minutes?  Remember God’s faithfulness. If you don’t yet have your own story, borrow one from one of the heroes of faith in the Scripture. Hebrews 11 is a good place to start. Pray for faith to grow and let God give you a miracle!

But, you will have to take the first step.  One of my favorite passages (so beloved it’s inked on my right wrist) says “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21, NIV)

Here’s the thing most of the time before He does “immeasurably more” He asks us to just take a step of faith – to pray a bold prayer, to love an impossibly difficult person, to forgive what feels unforgivable, to be willing to let go of what feels safe, to get on a plane to Florida to find a little girl when you have no clue where she is …  immeasurably more.

Here is a word from the Word. May the Spirit make it living truth for you today. What is faith? It is the confident assurance that what we hope for is going to happen. It is the evidence of things we cannot yet see. … So, you see, it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that there is a God and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” (Hebrews 11:1,6 NLT)

______________

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His word.
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know thus saith the Lord.

 Jesus, Jesus, how I trust Him,
How I’ve proved Him o’er and o’er!
Jesus, Jesus, precious Jesus;
O for grace to trust Him more!
 -public domain

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